Social Determinism, Technology and Economic Externalities
This chapter discusses that agreement exists on the extraordinary magnitude of modern socioeconomic historical change. The discipline of economics has shown little interest in the processes that govern the formation of personal preferences. Perhaps it is felt that preferences are mainly of interest to the moralist and philosopher. In economics, the problem of coming to grips with the spillovers of human activities on the natural environment has been underlined by the debate of the seventies concerning the limits of growth. The importance of the concept of economic externalities is attributable to the two propositions developed above: that rapid socioeconomic historical change imparts on every person and institution welfare effects of considerable magnitude; and that the welfare effects of our changing times contain a significant component that is involuntary in character. This involuntary component equates with both the incidence of externalities and with the notion of determinism.